Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Chris Abani: Shared Humanity

Generally, I try to post the best of as I see it. I think Chris Abani's talk just might qualify. Abani is something of a Steinbeck foil, interested most in the small acts of compassion that accumulate, but not afraid to acknowledge mankind's dark side. And mankind can be disgustingly dark, a fact to which Abani attests. You should watch.

"It's 'ubuntu;' the only way for me to be human is for you to reflect my humanity back at me."

"There's no one more rabid than a Catholic convert."

"The Ebo used to say that they built their own gods. They would come together as a community and they would express a wish, and their wish would then be brought to a priest who would find a ritual object and the appropriate sacrifices would be made and a shrine would be built for the god. But if a god became unruly and began to ask for human sacrifice, the Ebos would destroy the god. They would knock down the shrine and they would stop saying the god's name. This is how they came to reclaim their humanity. Every day, all of us here, we're building gods that have gone rampant. It's time we started knocking them down. And forgetting their names."